Proposal would focus on improving quality of life for new Minnesotans
Saint Paul, MINN. – With a legislative package called the ‘Minnesota New American Integration Act’, State Representative Carlos Mariani (DFL - St. Paul) and State Senator. Patricia-Torres Ray (DFL – Minneapolis) are aiming to advance the economic and educational outcomes of new immigrant communities, while eliminating the unique challenges they face as newcomers trying to integrate into and strengthen Minnesota.
“Minnesota laws have a big impact on whether immigrants will be successful in our state,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani, “These bills are focused on opening up opportunities tailored to the unique challenges immigrants face.”
Sen. Patricia Torres Ray added, “New global realities are producing the largest immigrant populations in our state in over 100 years. That in turn produces great opportunities for making Minnesota stronger by adding in the exceptional skills that immigrants bring to their new home.” Those skills can be best maximized by aligning our laws so that immigrants can participate fully in our society.
Both legislators expressed concern that rhetoric currently being expressed in the national Presidential campaign misrepresents the great advantage of having a vibrant immigrant community.
“We want to assert a different vision for Minnesota, one that doesn’t turn the presence of new Americans as something to fear, but that welcomes them by doing everything possible to eliminate barriers for them to build strong lives while contributing to the prosperity of our state”, said Rep Mariani.
“Political parties often reach out to immigrants and communities of color with occasional policy proposals when elections draw near,” added Sen. Torres Ray, “we instead are drawing up the beginning of a long-term, meaningful agenda to make it the business of Minnesota government to ensure immigrants are able to join the rest of us in running successful businesses, getting a good education, be safe from harm and raise strong American families.”
Foreign-born residents of Minnesota contributed $1.2 billion in state and local tax contributions in 2013, and $22.4 billion to the state’s gross domestic product in 2012, but many of these new Minnesotans face significant challenges starting businesses, applying to higher education institutions, and navigating the criminal justice system.
“Minnesota is a perfect example of the economic power of immigrant communities,” said Sen. Torres Ray. “Our immigrant communities are keeping our population from declining, they are innovating and starting new businesses, and they are filling critical vacancies in the Minnesota workforce as the ‘Silver Tsunami’ approaches and older Minnesotans age out. However, for that to continue, we need to ensure new Minnesotans have access to all the tools they need to succeed and thrive.”
To reduce economic and racial disparities within immigrant communities and ensure their children are fully equipped to be full participants in the future workforce, Rep. Mariani and Sen. Torres Ray are proposing an initial seven bills for state lawmaking:
Immigrant Integration (HF 3563/ SF XXXX) - Creates a task force to look into how state law negatively affects immigrants.
Naturalization Tax Credit (HF 3560/ SF XXXX) - Reimburses citizenship applications for applicants who are below 200% of the poverty line.
Access to Higher Education (HF 3562/ SF 3353) - Allows the State Grant to fill in for unawarded Pell Grants within the Minnesota State Grant program, helping critically underserved students receive assistance in paying for education.
Homeowner Tax Credit Equity (HF 3561/ SF 3349) - Allows for homeowners without documentation to file for a homestead tax credit with their Tax Identification Number instead of their Social Security Number.
Domestic Abuse Protections (HF 3556/ SF 3331) - Statewide Adoption of the Federal U-Visa Program, protecting undocumented victims of crimes and building trust so that vulnerable and victimized members of the community can come forward without fear of police/deportation.
New American Business Technical Assistance (HF 3559/ SF XXXX) – Provides technical assistance for economically disadvantaged immigrant entrepreneurs.
Refugee Education Opportunities (HF 3618/ SF 3347) - Creates a grant for “SLIFE” students (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education) to be allocated on a per pupil basis to school districts for the 6,000-7,000 “SLIFE” students in Minnesota schools.
Rep. Mariani can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-9714. Sen. Torres-Ray can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651.296.4274